Saturday, January 16, 2016

“You were very young then, Pocahontas.”

         The 1617 meeting of Pocahontas and John Smith, continues as Smith speaks to Pocahontas in the great hall:

         “I told them that we were going to speak in your language,” he said in Algonquin, “and that if we were alone, you might speak more freely about your father and the Indians in Virginia.” He winked, and then grew solemn. Taking her by both hands, he drew her closer to the fire. “Let me look at you.” His gaze moved slowly from the ornamented coif that bound her hair, to the cambric ruffles at her throat, to the red velvet gown, to the small gold ring that was her wedding band. “What happened to that little girl in the doeskin apron?” he said softly. “The one who used to turn cartwheels round and round the palisade?” Without waiting for an answer, he said, “Ah, Pocahontas, you are truly a princess now, a king’s daughter, indeed.” He was still speaking in Algonquin, but Pocahontas spoke to him in English.
         “I am not my father’s daughter anymore,” she said. “He does not love me, nor I him. But he loved you, and he told you that what was his, was yours.” She looked into the fire.
         “You were very young then, Pocahontas.” Smith looked away. Was he thinking, as she was, of that November night at Werowocomoco when she had danced the love-dance for him?
         “I am not so young now,” she said. “And you have no woman.” She did not know that for a fact; she was guessing.
         “No, Pocahontas.” There was a note of resignation, of sadness in his voice. “You are not young, and I have no woman. But you have a husband.”
         “He wants to go back to Virginia,” she said. “But I want to stay in England. I want to be forever and ever English, like you.”
         John Smith laughed bitterly. “But I want to go back to Virginia. I would give my right arm to go back, and here you are, trying to stay.”
         “Then why don’t you go?” she asked, and then she paused. “I would like to go back to Virginia, if you went.”
         “I can’t go back.” He sighed. “My wound kept me idle far too long, and others took my place. Now I cannot raise the money to go back as I’d like.” Catching hold of her hand, he sat down on a settle by the fire, and drew her down beside him. He did not let go her hand, but put his other hand on top of it with an affectionate little slap. “Now, Pocahontas, I have no prospects, and I am getting old.” He tried to speak lightly, but neither of them laughed.

excerpt from JAMESTOWN: THE NOVEL, to be continued.

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